Sunday, September 16, 2007

First Kiss

This week I provided details of my first kiss to a newspaper. In the interests of full disclosure, and in the hope that it may provide an opportunity for others to unburden themselves of a similar trauma, I'm reprinting my confession below. I'd like to say that I've got better at the whole kissing thing since this happened. I'd like to say it, but I'm not sure that it would be true . . .

My first kiss took place during a schools disco at the Olympic Ballroom in Dublin. It's usual in these cases to add "which, unfortunately, is no more", but as the whole first kiss experience was so awful, I'm actually rather pleased that the Olympic Ballroom is no longer standing. If someone hadn't knocked it down then I'd have been forced to find a way to do it myself, if only so I wouldn't have to look at it and be reminded all over again of the whole affair.

It wasn't the fault of the girl in question, I hasten to add. She was, as I recall, perfectly accommodating. In fact, she was more than that: she was positively keen. As I circled the dancefloor looking for a likely candidate, she said "Hello". I went around a second time, and she said "Hello" again. After a third circuit I gave up and thought, okay, you'll have to do. I was no looker, I hasten to add, but arrogance and ignorance are a powerful combination, especially when you add rampant hormones to the mix.

After about thirty seconds of Move Closer by Phyllis Nelson - and, God, I hate that bloody song, along with Hello by Lionel Ritchie, which was the next song - I made my move and simply attached myself to her, like a limpet. I'm not even sure that she had time to draw breath. Frankly, she could have died under there and I wouldn't have noticed. I was like a ferret down a rabbit hole. At last, I thought, after years of drought, there is water to drink. Or maybe it was drool. Kissing is kind of hard the first time, and a bit messy.

Eventually, presumably when she realised that she was in imminent danger of blacking out, she detached herself, gasping, and said, "Don't you even want to know my name?"

Crikey, where were my manners?
"Uh, okay," I said. "What is it?"

And she told me. I can still remember it, to my shame. When the slow set ended, we parted, and I never saw her again. Anyway, Pamela, if you're reading this, I'm terribly sorry. Kind of grateful, but terribly, terribly sorry.

This week John read

To War With The Black Watch by Gian Gaspare Napolitano, translated by Ian Campbell Ross

Inside the Tardis by James Chapman

and listened to

Kurr by Amina

and saw

Prince and David Sylvian live


Debi said...

Haha John,

Definitely a laugh out loud post! Sometimes you evince a disarming honesty. It's never less than refreshing and often quite endearing. Particularly amused that you chose not to concern yourself with the insignificant matter of introductions. Classy! Such is the enthusiasm and impetuosity of youth. Seriously, I'm impressed! Almost sad that ultimately the story portrayed how a kiss can close doors as well as open them.

Surely such revelations deserve a response, or ten, in kind.

I was all of eight for my first less than magic moment.* Still some kind of impression must have been made because I can remember it fairly well forty-one years later. Chewing gum breath, a slight clash of teeth even though mouths remained tightly closed like they always appeared to be on those old black and white films whenever passion was called for. (Cue violins!)

He was a naughty but irresistibly cute little blond scamp who lived across the road from an aunt we stayed with one summer. His name was Dennis (the menace - who painted the vicar's car red. I kid you not!), and I think he was slightly younger than me. (I know; were similar to have happened in today's overwrought and ever cautious climate I'd probably have my name on some kind of sex offender list.)

Anyway, think Jack Reacher and you'll get the picture (". . . kissed me hard. I kissed back harder." Oh dear!) I don't really believe it did much for either of us. Ground remained stable. Lightning failed to strike. And I heard no orchestra. (Still, I didn’t have to put up with the odious strains of ‘Move Closer’ or ‘Hello’ either. That has to count for something!) It was fun but we got bored after a while and moved on to more appropriate games, perhaps ludo, or getting each other to eat the most revolting concoctions we could come up with in the kitchen. Possbly!

A further eight years passed before anything similar (yet absolutely different) happened again. Life occasionally offers a pleasing symmetry. A fellow long-haired art student had been a best friend for most of a year. Sadly, one of many walks on the beach proved the beginning of the end. Well, it couldn't go anywhere. I was the 'other woman' (the shame!) and when he chose to stay with his long term girlfriend we were too gauche to know how to deal with it. Just another lesson! Hard learned, but all part of life's rich tapestry.

The kiss itself was - I daresay - probably not so different from the gift bestowed on Pamela, as above. I had walked ahead a little while he was distracted by some find, or perhaps a decision about to be made. He suddenly ran at me, grabbed my shoulders, turned me towards him, had his face in mine and was playing tonsil hockey before I'd even realised what was happening. Drama! Inability to breathe! Energy! I had it all. Once I got comfortable and went with the flow it was great; could hardly wait to do it again, and again, and. . . .

Overwhelming yes, especially at first. But traumatic? I'd vote definitely not. It positively defined kissing for a time. Other kisses continued to be measured by it long afterwards.

So. A kiss can be a hello, or it can mean a goodbye. It can unlock hearts and let secrets pour out; it can close a door so you can never pass through again. Sometimes the frog turns into a prince; sometimes the princess was really a frog all along and only too happy to go play in the pond. It's all good, but a gesture that is best imparted with care. Once it is given you can't take it back.

Be well. Don't have anything in your mouth you believe you may later regret even the memory of.


Deb. x

*A precocious brat then, but I could have been worse. Darling Daughter started much earlier. Her dad lifted her into the air for a kiss when she was about three. She informed him he had it all wrong, it was supposed to be done "like this", and proceeded to attempt a full tongue job. I think he nearly dropped her. Traumatised for life, though I reckon if I told her about it now she'd be the horrified one. Ha, rug rats, they're the gift that keeps on giving! It's hard to know where they get their information and ideas from. All I can say is that passion is rather more no-holds-barred graphic in today's films than one could have imagined in the sixties. I was never innocent, but I was relatively tame. x

Jeff said...

I was twelve when I experienced my first kiss. It was a quickly arranged "spin the bottle" adventure during a party at my friend's house.

My turn came and I gave the bottle a hearty spin. When it finally stopped, it was pointing toward one of the cutest girls in my class.
The deed was quickly accomplished with a wet smack, and I remember thinking, "is this all there is to it?"

She and I remained friends through high school (although never really boyfriend and girlfriend) and she would occasionally bring up the subject of that kiss and teasingly accuse me of purposely spinning the bottle so it would point to her.
"Well, did you?" she would ask with a sly smile.
I'd wink and say, "I'll never tell."

Annie Chen said...

Hi, John,

You are very frank and humorous, and I bet that first kiss is so unique that Pamela will remember it even if she lives to be 100! Your confession has reminded me of a very silly thing I've done in junior high school. When I was 15, I went to an English cram school after class and over there I met a boy who had a crush on me. He chatted with me during recess and he would walk me home when the class was over. After about one or two months, we started to walk hand in hand. When our hands touched, I felt a mixed feeling of sweetness and warmth running all over me. The feeling of being cared for was really nice. Of course we never went beyond walking hand in hand because both of us were so young, shy, and pure. However, each time after we said good-bye and when I was at home in my own room, the feeling of joy was gradually replaced by a feeling of insecurity and fear. There was a worrying thought that occupied my mind:"What if I get pregnant? I'm too young to have a baby!" I was so worried that I closed my eyes and started to pray to God:"Dear God, please tell the unborn baby to find another mature woman to be the mom. I'm definitely not the right choice for him or her. I'm a poor girl with too many textbooks to study and a lot of pressures to deal with. I'm too young and unprepared to have the ability to give happiness and total care to a new life. So God, please have mercy on me!" Now I realize back then I spent so much time studying and struggling to get into the best high school, but I was so ignorant about basic concepts of how a woman conceives a child and the necessary precaution....To this day I still feel embarrassed by my silly prayer and the fact that I could be so dumb as to believe that holding hands with a young boy could get a girl pregnant! However, I cherished the puppet love memory with Kai because my pure relationship with him was short-lived. One day as usual, when I walked with him hand in hand on the street, my father saw us by accident. He was not pleased and forbade me to walk with Kai after class. I felt sad and sorry but as an obedient daughter I bent to my father's will. (Of course, now as a grown-up, I have a say about my own life and I don't need to be obedient anymore...) Not long afterwards, I was admitted to the best girl's high school in Taipei and I had never seen Kai again. That was more than 20 years ago but I could still remember the sweet and funny and silly feelings vividly. After that experience my heart hadn't been touched by the "magical love chemistry" for a long time. My first kiss came when I was 21, so I could say that I was a late bloomer in love. I believe when looking back, many people will find the silly things they have done in their youth pretty amusing, embarrassing, and nevertheless lovely, because when we grow up and mature, we don't have the chance and frame of mind to do something so inexperienced and hilarious again.